Gilded Age Essay

1914 Words 8 Pages
The late 19th century witnessed the birth of modern America. It saw the closing of the Western frontier. Between 1865 and the 1890s, Americans settled 430 million acres in the Far West--more land than during the preceding 250 years of American history. But to open lands west of the Mississippi River to white settlers, the Plains Indians were pushed in a series of Indian wars onto restricted reservations.
This period also witnessed the creation of a modern industrial economy. A national transportation and communication network was created, the corporation became the dominant form of business organization, and a managerial revolution transformed business operations. By the beginning of the twentieth century, per capita income and industrial
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It is easy to caricature the Gilded Age as an era of corruption, conspicuous consumption, and unfettered capitalism. But it is more useful to think of this as modern America's formative period, when an agrarian society of small producers was transformed into an urban society dominated by industrial corporations.
Harrison's administration brought a reversal of the financial policies of Grover Cleveland. Congress disposed of the Treasury surplus by making large appropriations for pensions, naval vessels, lighthouses, coast defenses, and other projects. It also passed the McKinley Tariff Act, which raised the already high protective duties and resulted in higher prices for many household commodities. In order to gain the support of the West for the bill, Congress in 1890 passed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, by which the government agreed to buy 4,500,000 oz (130,000 kg) of silver every month and to issue paper money equaling the full amount purchased. Also in 1890 Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act, which declared illegal "every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade." Although the nation favored this measure, it reacted against the higher prices brought about by the McKinley Act by electing a

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